FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical, behavioral, mental and/or learning disabilities with possible lifelong implications. It is identified by abnormal facial features, central nervous system problems and slowness of growth, and occurs when pregnant women drink alcohol and pass the alcohol along to their unborn babies through the blood stream. FASD can cause physical and mental disabilities of varying levels of severity (including intellectual disability).
The prevalence of FASD is not known. However, CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) studies have shown that 0.2 to 1.5 cases of FAS occur for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the United States, while studies using different methods have estimated the rate of FAS at 0.5 to 2.0 cases per 1,000 live births. Other prenatal alcohol-related conditions are believed to occur approximately 3 times as often as FASD. FASD occurs in all types of homes and families in the U.S. The incidence of FASD is higher among certain tribes of Native Americans and Alaska natives. Also, it is not uncommon for adoptive parents to discover their adopted child has FASD.
Children with FASD can have serious lifelong disabilities other than intellectual disability, such as learning disabilities and serious behavioral problems. The good news is FAS is not hereditary and only occurs if a woman drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. In other words, FASD is 100% preventable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).